Here is a description from Factnet.org regarding Daniel Shaw:
Dan Shaw, C.S.W.
Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
850 Seventh Avenue, Suite 906
New York, New York 10019
Tel./ Fax.: (212) 581-6658
152 Main Street, Nyack, New York 10960
Tel.: (845) 548-2561
Works with former members of cults and cultic groups, and friends and families of cult members.
His work in this area is connected to theories of malignant or pathological narcissism, and he has a special interest in working with those who have exited or who are exiting from destructive relationships with abusive teachers, partners, and significant others.
He is an allied professional member of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association; faculty and clinical supervisor at and certified in adult psychoanalysis and psychotherapy by The National Institute for the Psychotherapies (NIP) in New York City; co-chair of the Education Committee of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP).
Read his essay, “Traumatic Abuse in Cults” completely free. (Reference)
Daniel Shaw received his Masters Degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University, New York, in 1996. He was certified as a Psychoanalyst in 2000 after completing the four year training program at The National Institute for the Psychotherapies (NIP), in New York City. Dan Shaw worked as a professional actor before joining the Siddha Yoga movement and is currently an ex-devotee of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Daniel Shaw was active in the SYDA movement from 1981 - 1994, taking on the spiritual name of “Sureshwar”. Daniel Shaw is the webmaster and registrant for the leavingsiddhayoga.net domain:
He uses that term to describe a specific type of person that abuses and exploits others in relationships. It's in my opinion quite fitting to describe Scientology leader Ron Hubbard. I have spent hundreds of hours researching the mind and life of Hubbard in the last three years after leaving the Scientology cult myself. I had been a member for twenty five years and sought to understand what Hubbard had done and what my own experience in the cult had truly been and why such a relationship was even possible.
I can never claim a perfect understanding or infallible knowledge or wisdom but sincerely hope my efforts to learn the truth have borne fruit and at least thrown off any insidious influence or pernicious effects Scientology may have left with me or encouraged the persistence of.
I feel the ideas presented by Doctor Shaw in his book Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation are at times profound and poignant. They have simple themes from traditional academic views on cults such as those of Robert Jay Lifton and Margaret Singer integrated with ideas on abusive relationships and the ideas on malignant narcissism from Fromm and many others along with a tremendous amount of information and interpretation regarding various schools of psychoanalysis.
If a deep study of psychoanalysis is not something you want to undertake this book still has a wealth of information that is more than worth the time and effort to read it regarding narcissism, abusive relationships, and cults. The second half heavily focuses on therapy but honestly if you aren't interested in that then just reading the first half is a tremendous education in itself.
I must give this book my highest possible recommendations. It's vocabulary particularly regarding psychoanalysis isn't the easiest to decipher but looking up a couple dozen words if you never studied the subject is well worth it.
Shaw is exacting in his choice of themes, phrases and terms that are precise and relevant to his subject. I must encourage all ex Scientologists and ex cult members to read this book. Anyone seeking to understand cult leaders, totalitarian regimes, authoritarian regimes, or abusive relationships can benefit tremendously from a fraction of the information collected here.
I am going to discuss the traumatizing narcissist concept as it in my opinion fits several cult leaders and abusive narcissistic people extremely well.
I sincerely believe after hundreds and hundreds of hours of examining two individuals in particular that this description is the best I have yet seen for them and the behavior they have conducted for their entire lives: Scientology cult leader Ron Hubbard and Donald Trump.
I will focus in this post on statements Shaw made that are particularly relevant to Hubbard and Scientology.
Here's a quote to describe how Shaw went from the more usual terms of narcissist or malignant narcissist to his own of traumatic narcissist.
"I had used the example of a narcissist guru as someone who needed to believe that he was completely free, dependent on no one-the kind of narcissist who exploits and controls others, inflating himself by deflating those he surrounds himself with. I was arguing in this paper that he needs others desperately, but that he disavows dependency, which he views as weak and shameful."
Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation Preface
I have examined among many hundreds of other writings and tapes by Hubbard his perhaps most honest creations: the affirmations. For anyone unfamiliar I have a copy available on this blog and they were private commands Hubbard used to attempt to influence his own mind.
Shaw wrote something giving his impression of aspects of how trauma is intergenerational - meaning transferred from caregivers to children- and which trauma manifests in which ways most often. If you aren't extremely interested in psychoanalytic theory then just understand that is what he is talking about here and set it aside for the moment.
"If one's own attachment trauma is dissociated, the chances of passing along insecure or disorganized attachment experience was traumatic but is not dissociated, one is much less likely to pass along insecure attachment to the next generation."
Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation page 4
Shaw gives a great description of his concept of a victim of abuse from a traumatizing narcissist like a child or cult member reacting to the abuse by taking on the abusive characteristics of the abuser. That's the essence of how it's a relational system. It is transmitted from abuser to victim who in turn may become abusive also. It certainly doesn't happen one hundred percent of the time. Many victims of abuse as children and in cults do not become abusive.
"There is a different route taken by some children of traumatizing narcissists-involving externalization, rather than internalization, of the hostile projections of the narcissist parents. People in this group, the "externalizers," might come to disdain needs altogether, and imagine that they themselves have no needs, that only others are weak and needy. This sort of person could become fixed in a subjective orientation, paving the way toward manic grandiosity and contempt for others, with a sense of entitlement and self-justification. The same cumulative traumatizion to the sense of subjectivity as with the objectified child has taken place, but this child, rather than succumbing to a sense of helplessness and despairing of being able to feel recognized, instead develops as an adult into someone who arranges to wield the power to bestow, or not bestow, recognition upon others. He has defended against depression by use of the manic reversal-as if to say, "it doesn't matter that you don't recognize me; you are not important, and I don't recognize you." Another way to think about this is to posit that the traumatized, thwarted subjective self of this child morphs into a protector self, which succeeds in preventing the internalization of shame and badness. Instead, this super-defended self locates badness only in others-never in the self. Rather than persecute the self, this dissociated protector is quick to detect inferiority in others, and able to maintain the sense of superiority quite consistently." Daniel Shaw
Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation Page 8
This is a bit to take on but I will crudely translate it in my own terms. Some children of traumatizing narcissists put all negative feelings onto people outside themselves, in other words other people. They are so hurt by having been treated with narcissistic abuse that they have deep trauma and pain regarding being dependent or unloved. They were either treated as only objects of the projected desires of narcissistic people or subjects of abuse or neglect. They were either loved as someone they actually weren't and only seen as extensions of abusers like the child that must be perfect. The perfect student, the perfect star or musician or athlete or church member. In any manifestation it denies the frailties and needs of the child as the genuine individual he or she is and serves to just fit the selfish fantasies of the caregiver as a way to assert the superiority of the caregiver or fulfill the needs for attention or something to their advantage but not in the interests of the child. Or if not loved and approved of as the idealized golden child put on a pedestal then the child was denied love by being abused in any manner possible including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect in which love is completely withheld.
When Shaw speaks of subjective orientation he is referring to a person who must be in charge in relationships and can't be vulnerable, admit to needs or weaknesses particularly faults and flaws. They must dominate others.
Obviously another route children in this position can take is to succumb to a sense of hopelessness regarding being recognized it is a route many victims of abuse including cult members take. Their can be a feeling of being incapable of being loved or ever deserving love.
The other route (but in my opinion more than these two undesirable results can occur, everyone subject to this extreme abuse, idealization or neglect doesn't end up as only either the victim or victimizer) Shaw describes is to become the abuser yourself.
As the abuser took on manic defenses to escape pain and extremely negative feelings of worthlessness, impotence, incompetence and being unloved and undeserving of love or even life itself so too can the victim take on the same defense for the same trauma in their own turn and so continue the trauma across generations. In families it's obviously passed down from parents or grandparents or caregivers to children who then may keep it going in perpetuity. In groups like cults it may be passed along from leaders and may be passed down by cult practices and doctrine. It can go on indefinitely this way.
Of particular note in Scientology is Hubbard's pathological need to assert his infallible perfection and authority as superior to God. I recall a tape lecture in which Hubbard said the closest he ever came to quitting in Scientology was admitting that his job in Scientology was one God himself couldn't do. Meaning in taking it on and succeeding Hubbard had surpassed God. A number of Scientologists have interpreted that the physical universe was created by either a thetan, meaning spirit, long ago who could be called God, or a group of spirits and that it was a place that became degraded and unpleasant for spirits so God, or the gods who were merely old and mighty spirits, abandoned their creation and like an absentee slum lord gave up the responsibility.
Hubbard painted himself as taking on the salvaging of the abandoned universe single handedly and all the inhabitants of it as well. He asserted his sense of superiority to a unique level, well above everyone else.
Shaw explains further:
"From my perspective, rigid orientation to either the subjective or objective position is best understood as the result of cumulative developmental trauma of unrecognition. The trauma of unrecognition could lead one to desperately seek connection through subjugation, and self-objectification; or unrecognition could lead one to hyper-idealize oneself and hold others in contempt." Daniel Shaw
Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation Page 9
It's clear the subjective position is being in charge and unchanging and infallible, a master and abuser. Being objective is being dominated and controlled, being a victim and slave.
Shaw asserts that not being recognized - as in being unloved in the form of abuse, neglect or being used to be a creation that pleases the abuser without recognition of the actual person - can result in a person that seeks to continue being a victim or to reverse roles and in turn be the abuser.
Perhaps the following quote sums up Ron Hubbard's character and details of his cult and personal life as well as any I have ever seen:
"The overinflated narcissist is often someone much more like the original Narcissus of Ovid's Metamorphoses, as I understand the Narcissus myth: reveling in being wanted and adored by others, contemptuously deeming no one good enough, reinforcing his grandiose overvaluation of himself by sadistically negating the value and worth of others; and ultimately trapped and destroyed by his delusional obsession with what he perceives to be his own perfection. This narcissist in real life, a myth in his own mind, is so well defended against his developmental trauma, so skillful a disavower of the dependency and inadequacy that is so shameful to him, that he creates a delusional world in which he is a superior being in need of nothing he cannot provide for himself. To remain persuaded of his own perfection, he uses significant others whom he can subjugate. These spouses, siblings, children, or followers of the inflated narcissist strive anxiously to be what the narcissist wants them to be, for fear of being banished from his exalted presence. He is compelled to use those who depend on him to serve as hosts for his own disavowed and projected dependency, which for him signifies profound inadequacy and is laden with shame and humiliation. To the extent that he succeeds in keeping inadequacy and dependency external, he can sustain in his internal world his delusions of shame-free, self-sufficient superiority."
Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation Page 11
I plan to write further on this and to refer back to Shaw's work again for other posts and even subjects like Trump as well. I invite everyone who reads this to read all forthcoming posts in this series.